Amarosa has a wish. A wish she is willing to give her life for. So she does the only thing she can — she appeals to a jury of nine gods. These nine goAmarosa has a wish. A wish she is willing to give her life for. So she does the only thing she can — she appeals to a jury of nine gods. These nine gods have the power to decide if her wish is worthy and her heart is true. When they rule in her favour she gains entry to the Wishing Well and will attempt to fight her way through nine trials. If she survives than her wish will be granted...
If you’ve ever read anything about the gods of Ancient Greece, you know it wasn’t unusual for them to use and abuse humans. Whether they were bored, lIf you’ve ever read anything about the gods of Ancient Greece, you know it wasn’t unusual for them to use and abuse humans. Whether they were bored, looking for a sexual partner or simply trying to prove a point, humans were not much more than playthings. So when André Alexis’s newest novel opens on two gods, in this case Hermes and Apollo, sitting in a (human) bar trying to settle a bet, it’s not particularly groundbreaking. What makes this story unique, however, is that they don’t use humans to settle their dispute. Instead they use dogs.
Amy lives a pretty lacklustre life in Kansas. She’s an outcast at school, lives in a trailer withThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
Amy lives a pretty lacklustre life in Kansas. She’s an outcast at school, lives in a trailer with her alcoholic mom and doesn’t seem to have a friend in the world. Life is boring and horrible and she can’t wait to get out of town. Although a tornado to Oz wasn’t what she had in mind.
The Oz Amy lands in is very different from the one we all remember from the movie. Dorothy has returned and she has become drunk on the power of her reputation and the magic she mines from the soil. The Tin Man now controls an army to enforce all of Dorothy’s rules, the Scarecrow has become something of a mad scientist and the Lion is a gang leader, roaming the towns and destroying everything he comes across. It’s heart breaking when you think about how magical and inspiring Oz was.
I love the premise of this book. I liked the idea of Dorothy not starting out “bad” but being corrupted by fame and power. I thought this was a realistic way for Paige to twist the idea of Oz and the values we associate with it. I also liked the way she corrupted the other’s gifts in similar ways. I think it showed it’s not the gift/quality – it’s how we use it and that’s an important message.
However, despite its excellent premise I thought this book suffered from having too much going on. There were a lot of characters and some of them seemed extraneous. That combined with the sheer amount of subplots and minor conflicts made the whole experience feel a little chaotic. I think Paige could have trimmed down some of the extra details to make things more streamlined and improve the flow of the story. On the other hand I think there wasn’t enough of the right details. Some explanations were simply glossed over and I was left with more questions than I started with. It’s possible some of them will be answered in the next instalment(s) but I’m a strong believer that each book of a series should have a fully formed arc.
Overall I did like Dorothy Must Die. I thought Amy was a protagonist you could cheer for – she was tough, and imperfect but also sarcastic and willing to fight for what she believed in. The Wizard of Oz is one of my favourite movies so I also loved returning to that setting (no matter how twisted it had become). But the writing could have been stronger and the story could have flowed better. It was a good read but not as great as the hype had led me to believe....more
The characters of the Raven Cycle series have come a long way since the first book. Starting withThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
The characters of the Raven Cycle series have come a long way since the first book. Starting with Ronan. I couldn’t stand him in The Raven Boys. He was so smug and annoying and I kind of wanted to punch him. But now my feelings are more…complicated. He’s still incredibly smug, but The Dream Thieves opens up a whole new side of him. He’s not just your average bad boy, he’s an extremely complicated and damaged individual and he makes this story so interesting.
And then there’s Gansey. I have to admit I didn’t fully understand the Gansey love in the first book. He was interesting and well written but I didn’t love him. Now I do. He went from simply being interesting to making my heart melt a little more every scene he was in. And Noah. Although instead of heart melting, it was heart breaking. Now that we know the truth about him we see how much he’s missing and how hard it is for him. I wish he was real. For his sake and us heart broken readers.
In The Raven Boys the magic felt a lot more subtle. Tarot cards and scrying and so forth. It was though everything in their lives was fairly “normal” with a strong magic core running through it. In The Dream Thieves, however, the magic is more front and centre and I wasn’t entirely prepared for it to take the main stage so soon – I thought Stiefvater would be introducing things more gradually as the series progressed. This book was a lot more dangerous and a lot more dark than I thought it would be but on the other hand it was also a lot more exciting and action packed.
Great characters, magic, danger, excitement – this all speaks to Stiefvater’s writing. As I said in my review of The Raven Boys, she gets better with every book. The Dream Thieves is poetry in prose. It’s deep, emotional and humorous. It’s everything that good writing should be. A friend of mine pointed out that reading a book like The Dream Thieves helps us become better writers. I also think books like this make us better readers. They make us think, they let our imagination soar and they demonstrate how a story can change us.
The Dream Theives is enchanting. I can think of no other word that best describes this series. It has packed such an emotional punch in only two books, I can only imagine what three and four have in store....more
Fairy Tale re-tellings seem to be what’s hot right now and I personally think that’s fantastic. IThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
Fairy Tale re-tellings seem to be what’s hot right now and I personally think that’s fantastic. I think it’s even more fantastic however when I get to read a totally original fairy tale like The School for Good and Evil. Soman Chainani’s book is a brand new fairy tale – instead of remixing old stories, it explains to readers where the stories come from.
Agatha and Sophie are both fantastic characters. They’re both complex. At times you love them, at times they drive you insane (especially Sophie) but they are always compelling. At its heart The School For Good and Evil is the story of their friendship – of all friendships – and the trials and tribulations that go with it. No relationship is a walk in the park, they require work, but true friendships are the ones that push through.
The School For Good and Evil makes you question the idea of good and evil being polar opposites and makes you consider the grey area in between. It’s a longer middle grade read, but you won’t care because you’ll be so wrapped up in the story. I personally can’t wait to see what Agatha and Sophie get up to next in A World Without Princes....more
I am continually amazed by how Marissa Meyer can add new layers and stories to the Lunar ChroniclThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
I am continually amazed by how Marissa Meyer can add new layers and stories to the Lunar Chronicle series and still produce easy to read, fun, and above all brilliant books.
Cress is the third installment in this series. Cinder gave us a retelling of Cinderella, Scarlet tackled Little Red Riding Hood and Cress brings Rapunzel into the mix. Now Rapunzel is kind of a weird fairy tale (most of them are) and though I have seen good re-tellings of it before (Tangled!) I’m always a little wary. But I should have known better. Meyer adapts the story of Rapunzel in a way that pays homage to the original but is also fresh and unique. There were a lot of little details that I really enjoyed but can’t get into because of spoilers. I think it’s safe to say however, that if you’re familiar with the original story you’re going to enjoy all the ways Meyer plays with it here.
The newest character to join our rag tag group of outlaws is Cress. I adore Cress. Partially because she is nothing like Cinder and Scarlet. Don’t get me wrong I love them too but Cress is special. I love how confident the other two are – even when they’re scared. But it’s nice to have Cress’s nerves and anxiety to balance them out a little. I see more of myself in Cress – a socially anxious dreamer. I think her personality quirks will resonate with a lot of readers and I’m willing to bet her fan club will be just as big (if not bigger) than the other characters in this series.
After Cress though Thorne steals the show. In Scarlet he is charming but is mostly comedic relief. Cress provides some real character development. He becomes more than just someone flirty and funny. He became someone I could root for, a hero rather than a rogue. On the other hand, I still want more Kai. I feel like all three books have barely scratched the surface of who he is. There was a little bit more in this instalment but I still didn’t think it was enough. I want to love him like Cinder loves him.
Cress is easily the best book of the Lunar Chronicles (so far). It’s complex, action-packed and tugs at all the right heart-strings. But that being said I can’t wait for Winter. I can’t wait to see more of Luna. I can’t wait to see what happens to my favourite characters (i.e. all of them). Once again Marissa Meyer proves she is a mega-talented author and that she’s going to continue to get better with every book....more
I will admit that when I went into this book I was a tad apprehensive. Despite the fact that I loThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
I will admit that when I went into this book I was a tad apprehensive. Despite the fact that I love stories about the Greek gods, I’m never sure about retellings/reimagings. Something about the original stories seems to get lost a good portion of the time. But I knew from reading Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares that Kendare Blake was a skilled writer, so I decided to give Antigoddess a fair chance.
And I am so glad I did because this book is amazing.
The narrative of this story rotates between two characters – Athena and the reincarnation of the prophet Cassandra. I really enjoyed both of these characters. I liked that Athena simultaneously felt both God and human. She was still determined and had a “don’t mess with me attitude” but the impact of her looming death (being smothered internally by feathers) had humanized her a bit. Blake managed to balance her character between someone I can relate to and someone I want to be like. But I also really like Cassandra. There’s a Marion Zimmer Bradley novel that I adore called The Firebrand. It’s also about Cassandra and it was the first time I really thought someone had done her character justice. Antigoddess is now in that exclusive club as well. Cassandra is not just some poor soul to be pitied. She is a survivor and she fights hard against her current situation – whatever it may be.
Seeing as how I’ve already mentioned Athena and Cassandra, you may have guessed this book draws heavily from the Iliad. It’s not a retelling though. It operates under the knowledge that the Trojan War was a real event and that many (if not all) of the players in this story were either a part of that war or are reincarnations of people who fought in that war. Think of it as The Trojan War II. It blends together myth and reality and is an interesting approach. I really enjoyed it but if you aren’t familiar with the story of the Iliad some of the connections might not be as interesting/exciting to you.
Now in a book about gods literally fighting to the death you wouldn’t think I would get wrapped up in the more personal/romantic relationships. I mean, there are gods FIGHTING TO THE DEATH. But the romances (and potential romances) actually gave this novel an edge. It had everything I wanted in a myth retelling. Action and daring adventure and sticky personal situations that always seemed to get the gods in the most amount of trouble. I can’t go into too many details without giving away some of the surprises, but you will definitely find yourself rooting for not one but two couples to come through the other side.
In conclusion this book was incredibly dark and dangerous and addictive. I got so wrapped up in the story I didn’t want it to end. It’s going to be torture waiting for Aristeia! Antigoddess is my favourite Kendare Blake book to date....more
This was definitely one the weirder collections in the series. I could have done without Bigby's WWII/ Frankenstein story.
Definitely interested to seThis was definitely one the weirder collections in the series. I could have done without Bigby's WWII/ Frankenstein story.
Definitely interested to see how this new dynamic (ie parenthood) plays out between Bigby and Snow. So overall not the best work in the series, but still has me hanging on to see what happens next. ...more
I love fairy tale re-tellings in all their forms. But I especially love when those re-tellings caThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
I love fairy tale re-tellings in all their forms. But I especially love when those re-tellings capture the feel of the original story they were inspired by. Strands of Bronze and Gold is a perfect example of this. It is a captivating read that is just a creepy and mysterious as the original.
That being said, if you’ve never read the original tale of Bluebeard or if you only know the bare bones of the story, that’s ok! Strands of Bronze and Gold does not make any assumptions about its readers. It presents itself as if it was a brand new tale. I was only familiar with the basic premise of the story (and the Fables version and I never felt like I miss any information, or that the story was moving on without me. I also think not knowing the story adds an extra creepiness factor to this book, as you begin to suspect what’s really going on.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, Jane Nickerson does a superb job of capturing the original feel of the fairy tale. Classic fairy tales often have this creepy, mysterious and poetic feel to them but not many re-tellings are able to capture this style. Strands of Bronze and Gold is the best example of this style I’ve read since Ash by Malinda Lo. Strands of Bronze and Gold takes place in the pre-Civil War era of the South and it very atmospheric. I truly felt as though I had been transported into another time and place. The descriptions of Wyndriven Abbey and it’s surrounding land were haunting and made me wish it was a real place I could go visit.
At the centre of all this wonderful story is our heroine -Sophia. I found her a little naive in the beginning but as I continued to read I found there was much more to her than that. Most of all I like that she makes up her own mind up about things – such as her position on slavery – and does what she can with her situation. She finds her own way to work around Bernard’s fluctuating moods, puts herself in danger by assisting with the Underground Railroad and breaks all of societies conventions when it comes to a certain pastor… No matter the situation she finds a way despite the difficulty of her situation.
Recommendation: A fantastic and atmospheric fairy tale re-telling, with a plucky heroine and creeptastic plot. Strands of Bronze and Gold is not to be missed!...more
I’m an avid speculative fiction fan (in case you haven’t noticed) and a lover of Canadian fiction so I can’tOriginally posted at More Than Just Magic
I’m an avid speculative fiction fan (in case you haven’t noticed) and a lover of Canadian fiction so I can’t believe it has taken me this long to pick up a Lesley Livingston novel!
Starling is a unique story. It takes traditional Nordic myths and legends and places them smack dab in the present day. I am a sucker for myth re-tellings but I have so rarely come across ones that focus on Nordic mythology. This book felt like a breath of fresh air, in an otherwise Greek God dominated market. An original and captivating story meant right off the bat I was fascinated with Starling.
What maintained my interest throughout the reading of this novel however wasn’t just the mythological element. Starling, is a fast paced read with lots of great action and adventure. I love a good fight scene and/or battle and this book is full of them. It made for a lot of heart thumping moments during which it was impossible to pry the book out of my hands. All these action packed sequences were intertwined with a great mystery and the twists and turns kept coming.
Speaking of the mystery — Starling, has a fairly unpredictable plot. In this case it was both a blessing and a curse. On one hand it made this story incredibly interesting with some great surprises. It kept me guessing which I always appreciate. However, at the same time a few of those twists made me go “wait…where did this come from?” and even flipping back through the book didn’t clear it up for me. I’m hoping some of these issues will be resolved in subsequent books, so I’m not really counting this as a criticism. Just a note from a concerned reader.
And then there’s Mason. I really wanted to like her, and sometimes I did. Other times however, I felt like she just had things happen to her, but didn’t actually do all that much herself. I really would have liked to see more independent, proactive actions from her. It wasn’t until the end of the book that I thought her real potential really shone through. Hopefully that means she’ll keep growing as a character the more the story unfolds.
I will definitely keep reading this series. Lesley Livingston has such a fun fresh way of writing and I want to see more of that. And if that weren’t enough I am incredibly curious to find out where she takes this story next and how some of my questions get answered. This may have been my first Lesley Livingston novel, but it certainly won’t be my last.
Final recommendation: Fans of myth and fairy tale re-tellings are going to enjoy this original new addition to the genre.Also a great read for paranormal fans who are tired of vampires and werewolves....more
The really astounding thing about Shadows on the Moon was that it wasn't just the story of Suzume. ItThis review originally posted at Hooked on Books
The really astounding thing about Shadows on the Moon was that it wasn't just the story of Suzume. It was the story of three different girls. Though Suzume, Rin and Yue are all technically the same person, they see and experience the world so differently, it was like you were reading three seperate stories. But because Zoe Marriott is such a masterful story-teller, the underlying themes of family, responsibility, trust and vengance, hold the whole thing together in a way I can't help but admire.
Not only was this story well designed it was absolutely gorgeous. From the rich setting of Japan, to the interesting form of magic Suzume possess, to the slow burning passion between Suzume and her fellow shadow weaver. Shadows on the Moon was so beautifully written, I felt as though I was right in the middle of the story, and experiencing first hand all of the emotions of the characters. My heart ached, my blood boiled, I felt fear. It's not often a book can capture such a range of emotions, but Shadows on the Moon is no ordinary book.
It wasn't until the very end of this book that I realized it was a Cinderella re-telling. I've read my share of re-tellings over the year, but I think this is one that will knock your socks off. For one thing, it's a lot darker. Suzume faces a lot worse than simply scrubbing the floors and waiting on her step sisters. And because of this darkness, this novel was able to touch on some serious issues – like self harm and depression – that the original Cinderella never could have. Shadows on the Moon is a powerful and thought provoking work. It's the type of fantasy novel that will suck you in and stay with you for days. Zoe Marriott is an amazing writer and I can't wait to read more of her work.
Final recommendation: Highly recommended for fantasy fans and those who enjoy unconventional fairy tale re-tellings. This is not the Cinderella you remember....more
When I first read Abandon I wasn’t overly impressed by it. But the premise really intrigued me andThis review was originally posted at Hooked on Books
When I first read Abandon I wasn’t overly impressed by it. But the premise really intrigued me and I decided to give Underworld a shot. Thankfully, I enjoyed it a lot more than Abandon. Whereas Abandon felt like it was all over the place, Underworld was more focused. Easier to follow. There was a clear direction to this book which made the story significantly more interesting and gripping.
One of the things that really sold this story for me, was the secondary characters. John’s crew, Peirce’s family and classmates. They were all fabulous. Partially because they all felt really authentic and partially because they were all really engaging. Even when they were being stubborn and frustrating - in particular Pierce’s cousin Alex - they were believable and interesting.
In fact these secondary characters were often so interesting I wanted to know more about them, then I did the main characters - John and Pierce. They were fine characters on their own but together they kind of lost me. I just had a hard time buying them as a couple. They barely knew each other in Abandon, so I expected a certain level of getting to know one another in Underworld. And it was there to an extent, but not as much as I would have liked. Not enough to convince me that they were really and truly in love. They couldn’t even communicate very well. I’m really hoping for more relationship development in the third book.
Like Abandon, Underworld is a fast pace, fun read. But Underworld takes the story one step further and makes it more engaging for the reader. It’s a series that just keeps getting better.
Final recommendation: Relationship underdevelopment aside, YA readers who are fans of Greek mythology will enjoy this unique twist on the myth...more
Middle Grade fantasy is absolutely fantastic. It makes me feel nostalgic for the books I read wheThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
Middle Grade fantasy is absolutely fantastic. It makes me feel nostalgic for the books I read when I was younger. And honestly who doesn’t love getting lost in a fairy tale? The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is no exception. It made me feel like a kid again, it was laugh out loud funny and it reminded me a lot of classic Disney movies like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White but with a great twist.
The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is really the story of four Prince Charmings (You didn’t think there was just one guy doing all the rescuing did you?) There’s Frederic – Cinderella’s prince – who is scared of everything (but an excellent negotiator!). Duncan, who broke Snow White’s sleeping spell. He’s a little dopey, but absolutely loyal and just wants to make friends with everyone and everything. Gustav, who rescued Rapunzel without realizing what he was getting into – which is the story of his life! And Liam. The only real “hero” of the bunch, who is unfortunately expected to marry the absolutely nasty Briar Rose. Seriously, move over Regina George. You have been de-throned.
I loved this book because all four of them – except maybe Liam – weren’t quite the Prince Charmings you generally think of. Fairy Tales are often all about the girls, and even most retellings focus on the female characters as well. The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom was a nice twist because it let the men develop more as characters. No longer cursed to simply swoop in at the end, looking handsome and expected to solve all the problems with a dashing smile and love’s first kiss. And this is all accomplished without sacrificing the strength of the female characters. It’s win-win!
I also loved that, contray to a lot of fairy tales, The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom was not about the romance! Yes Snow White and Duncan have a lovely relationship but the rest not so much. Each one is their own person and chasing their own dream. Cinderella wants adventure, Rapunzel wants to help people, Frederic wants to face his fears etc etc. Their destiny’s aren’t wrapped up in simply being with another person and I thought that was a more realistic portrayal.
Recommendation: The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is a delightful return to the fairy tales I grew up with but it makes this return without sacrificing strong characters or realistic goals. Basically it’s the whole package. Recommended for middle grade readers and those who grew up watching their Disney VHS’s over and over....more
On paper this book and I should have been a perfect fit. A mixture of Alice in Wonderland and zombies? Count meOriginally reviewed at Hooked on Books
On paper this book and I should have been a perfect fit. A mixture of Alice in Wonderland and zombies? Count me in. Alice was one of my favourite fairy tales growing up. It was one of those books I read until it fell apart. And zombies? Well I will never turn down a zombie novel. Not ever. So it seems to go without saying that I was more than a little eager to get my hands on this book.
But being a good match on paper, doesn't always mean things will work out when confronted with the real thing and that is exactly what happened when I actually sat down to read Alice in Zombieland.
The premise of this book is fine. It's intriguing, it's well thought out, there's some good twists. Clearly a lot of thought went into the plotting of this book and I can respect that. But that sadly just wasn't enough to win me over. All the excellent plotting and twists went right out the window when faced with the characters and the writing itself.
Almost every character in this book was...well...kind of annoying. They were whiny, they made ridiculous decisions, I couldn't find a single one to relate to. Absolutely no connection to them what so ever. It's hard to really get into a book, when you feel so detached. Alice - or Ali - especially got on my nerves. If I met someone like her in real life, I would probably walk quickly in the other direction. So it really didn't help that this book was narrated by her.
Passage after passage made me actually groan out loud. I've included a few here so you can see for yourself (*note: quotes are taken from the advance reader's copy of the book and may be changed in the finished version)
"What I saw shocked my soul. I wasn't the only one who'd gotten a death glare today. Cole was watching Justin as if he meant to flay the skine from his bones, throw it down and play "Dance Dance Revolution" on it." (p. 73)
"Some were more interested in talking, but a few were more itnerested in making out against the wall. I couldn't locate Justin in the crowd but can I just say that there was more T and A in here than in a bucket of the Kentucky Colonel's best" (p. 214) <---this one I don't even get. I sincerely hope there isn't any "A" in your bucket of chicken. Unless they've changed the chicken since I became a vegetarian....
Do people really talk like this? Am I just extremely lucky that I've never come across them?
I made it through the whole book but it was a struggle and I sincerely doubt that I will be continuing with this series. Let's hope for better things from the next mash-up I read....more
Last year when Cinder came out I was blown away by it’s originality. Fairy tales and science fictThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
Last year when Cinder came out I was blown away by it’s originality. Fairy tales and science fiction – why have these two genres not be combined in such a way before? I didn’t think it could be any better but then came Scarlet.
Scarlet brings the Lunar Chronicles to a whole new level. Cinder was an enjoyable story with an interesting plot but all in all it was pretty straight forward. Scarlet’s plot is more layered, more complex. The characters are even more fleshed out. The whole book seems smarter and masterfully told. You always hope the sequel will be better than the original. That it will be a strong next step in the series. And Scarlet most certainly delivers.
Marissa Meyer is a master story teller. Hints of what’s to comes and inter-weaving plot lines. I’m so impressed with the way she can keep everything straight. This story has expanded so much from that of Cinder and Kai. Now Thorne, Wolf and Scarlet are wrapped up in it as well. There was so much planning and forethought put into this story I couldn’t help but think of J K Rowling and Harry Potter while reading.
Like I mentioned there are a few new characters, the most important of which is Scarlet (of course). I adored Scarlet. She is everything I love in a character. Attitude, dedication to her family, brave, takes charge of the situation and doesn’t take no for an answer. And she wears hoodies. I think it would be pretty hard not to like her. I’m interested to see where her head-strong personality takes her next and how Marissa will tie her into the following two books.
At the end of 2012 I awarded Kai the award for “Best Love Interest” ad while he still plays an important role in this book and is still sweet and adorable he has some competition now. Captain Thorne and Wolf are sure to win you over. Wolf is your dark and dangerous type but he has a heart of gold underneath his tough exterior. But personally, it was Thorne was his swashbuckling ways and fantastic sense of humour that stole my heart. I’m really anxious to get my hands on Cress and see what shenanigans are sure to follow him.
Recommendation: Scarlet is a fantastic sequel and one that takes The Lunar Chronicles to a whole new level of story telling. Highly recommended....more